Another Kiwi partnership for the record books

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2014

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It looked like a timely memento for a while there.

As the reunion of the 1992 New Zealand World Cup team lurched into its third day, Andrew Jones' longtime partner Amanda lingered in the foyer of the RA Vance Stand taking photos.

Long after Jones had stopped calling the Basin Reserve home, a display had been mounted on the wall celebrating the day in 1991 when Jones and Martin Crowe made cricket history. The two then-Wellington players defied Sri Lanka, and the record books, to post the highest partnership for any wicket in test cricket history.

If that's not worthy of a snap to show the grandkids one day, then nothing is.

Their record of 467 stood for more than six years, until Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama went past them. Their fellow Sri Lankans, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, eventually did better still, but Jones and Crowe's partnerships still sits third all-time, as well as comfortably being the most runs any New Zealand pair have put on.

But it was under threat yesterday, as Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling set a slew of new marks for this that and the other thing. Not that either of the batsmen looked too fussed at the time, or at stumps, having eventually combined for 352, which is now the highest sixth-wicket partnership in test history.

"No, I wasn't really thinking about records, to be fair. The [ground] announcer said a few things but nah, you're just trying to bat each ball," Watling said afterwards.

It wasn't only the size of McCullum and Watling's mounting partnership that had you thinking of Crowe and Jones, but the scenario too.

Back in 1991 New Zealand had been bowled out for 174, before an Aravinda de Silva-inspired Sri Lanka replied with 497. Miles behind, New Zealand's only option was to try and bat out the game, no matter how improbable that might be.

Crowe, as everyone remembers, was dismissed for 299 late on the last day and the game immediately called off.

Where this match differs is that all three results will still be possible when McCullum comes back out this morning on 281. New Zealand looked dead once India led by 246 after the first innings and then reduced the hosts to 94-5 second time round.

But test cricket's capacity to surprise is one of its innate charms and a draw or win for the Black Caps in this match would certainly rank as one of the most amazing comebacks in New Zealand cricket history.

There might even be a plaque to commemorate it, one day.

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- Fairfax Media

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